The Peyton Manning case: Will another idol fall?

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Peyton Manning sure has been getting a lot of “exposure” lately.

First, allegations surfaced about some HGH being sent to his wife back in 2011. Then Manning defied the odds and led the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl title. Now some disturbing information about an incident that occurred when he was a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee has come to light — again.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard all the sordid details, so I’ll keep this brief. According to numerous media reports, Manning’s name came up in a recent lawsuit filed against the university claiming that it mishandled sexual assault complaints involving student-athletes. Although the suit brought by five women pertains mainly to incidents that occurred between 2013 and 2015, it also alludes to prior episodes, presumably to show a pattern of behavior or conduct.

As a student athlete at the university in the late 1990s, Manning reportedly exposed his backside to a female trainer who was treating him at the time. That resulted in the trainer filing a sexual assault complaint against him.

The matter was settled fairly quickly — but the trainer sued the quarterback after information about the event appeared in a book called Manning. That suit was also settled.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

Now renewed publicity brings new questions. There has been much talk about if or how this will affect Manning’s legacy. Will one of the NFL’s superstars — who also happens to be a stellar salesman,  weather the storm? Will he retain his credibility? Or will another idol fall?

To me there is a far more important question. Why do we put these athletes on pedestals in the first place? Think about it. From the second a little boy or girl shows that they may be athletically gifted, their parents, teachers, coaches, and peers treat them differently.  The older they get, the more special attention they receive. Why?  What is it about someone who can throw a football, kick a soccer ball, hit a baseball, shoot a basketball or a hockey puck that makes them so special? Why do we care?

And why are we so surprised when they act out? Or when they think they deserve special treatment? Or when they develop entitlement issues? Or when they think they can get away with anything? Or when they do get away with so much reprehensible behavior on and off the field? Or when they refuse to be held accountable for their actions?

Sure the athletes who reach the top of their respective games put in a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice a lot to get there. Sure they put themselves at risk in order to entertain the masses. Sure they provide a welcome distraction from the daily grind. And for all of that, they should be admired — but not idolized.

As Charles Barkley once said, “I am not a role model.”

Neither is Peyton Manning.

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